Review: Maze Runner: The Death Cure

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

PLOT: Thomas and the survivors of the previous films race to save themselves from the dangerous folks at WCKD. As they get closer to their objective, they discover there may be a cure to the sickness destroying society; they are part of the equation.

REVIEW: After the success of TWILIGHT and THE HUNGER GAMES, fans found themselves plenty of YA adventures on the big screen. Most disappeared into oblivion. However, the apocalyptic vision of MAZE RUNNER was able to please fans and even a few critics with THE MAZE RUNNER, the sequel THE SCORCH TRIALS, and now the third and final (?) chapter. While certainly not perfect, the films feature an engaging cast and they've kept the same director for all three films which may have helped a bit with keeping the series connected. MAZE RUNNER: THE DEATH CURE is the final film in the trilogy, and it should please those already initiated in the trials and tribulations of Thomas (Dylan O’Brien), Teresa (Kaya Scodelario) and the rest of the survivors. And frankly, aside from the bloated run time, I still found enough to entertain in.

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THE DEATH CURE takes place soon after Thomas and friends manage to survive THE SCORCH TRIALS. It begins with a dangerous train rescue as the crew attempts to save Minho (Ki Hong Lee) from captivity – he is about to become another lab rat for WCKD. While they are able to save a few "Gladers" – Maze survivors – they weren’t able to get to their old friend. The Maze Runners are trying to protect themselves from Ava Paige (Patricia Clarkson), Janson (Aidan Gillen) and fellow Glader turned traiter, Teresa (Scodelario), all of whom are trying to find a cure and fully willing to risk their subjects lives for the greater good. With the help of a strange and powerful resistance leader named Lawrence (Walton Goggins), they return to WCKD to try and rescue their friends from a deadly fate? Or will they find find the cure and save the world?

The second this flick starts, the action hits surprisingly hard. The opening sequence, clearly inspired by MAD MAX: FURY ROAD, gets things moving rather quickly. In fact, you’ll find a number of daring rescues and escapes, including the finale which offers a decently executed emotional punch to the gut. Stepping out of the maze for much of this feature, it was interesting to see more of the world that the filmmakers wanted to explore. Of course not having read the books – written by James Dashner – I couldn’t quite tell you how true to the novel it is. It was interesting to see director Wes Ball pay a little homage to films like MAD MAX and BLADE RUNNER. Unfortunately however, it occasionally feels as if it was borrowing too heavily from other genre films. 

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One of the things that has always stood out in the MAZE RUNNER franchise is the cast. Dylan O’Brien is very capable as a leading man, and he continues to prove that he can carry a film. As well, the familiar faces, including Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Scodelario, Aidan Gillen, Nathalie Emmanuel, Will Poulter, Clarkson, Giancarlo Esposito, Barry Pepper, Ki Hong Lee, Dexter Darden and especially Rosa Salazar all continue to impress. And then there is Goggins. Walton, who is covered in some seriously horrific make-up design, commands the screen as a man with curious motives to help. Per usual, the actor is quite fantastic and he adds a creep factor that works especially well. Seriously, the make-up design is almost too gruesome and realistic to look at. It works well with the character.

With a solid cast and decent action sequences, there is one issue that undermines the story a bit. The nearly two-and-a-half hour run time doesn’t do it any favors. As entertaining as the train rescue or breaking into WCKD can be, you begin to feel the minutes pass. This is especially problematic during the second act where they are planning the attack. After awhile, the chase sequences and such become repetitive. Yet once the last half hour or so arrives, I found myself tuning in once again. And while the stakes never felt too high, I found that by the ending I was taken aback more than I would have expected. This is especially true when the fate of a couple of important characters are revealed.

MAZE RUNNER: THE DEATH CURE is an often entertaining YA novel come to life. Dylan O’Brien leads a strong cast, and talent like Goggins, Pepper, Clarkson and Gillen give the story a little more credibility. Many of the set pieces are impressive – perhaps even better than some of last summer’s bigger films – but the near two-and-a-half hour running time is a bit frustrating. That said, if you’ve sat through the previous films and had a good time, you’ll definitely be on board for this. It may not be the brilliant end that will please all audiences, but THE DEATH CURE is an enjoyable final chapter ready to wrap it all up… for now.


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JimmyO is one of’s longest-tenured writers, with him reviewing movies and interviewing celebrities since 2007 as the site’s Los Angeles correspondent.